Your self-image describes how you see yourself and represents more than what you see when you look in the mirror. The mirror only shows a reflection of your outer physical being, but that’s not how you truly see yourself. You see yourself from the inside, through your mind. Your mind is dominated by the pervasive thoughts that you harbor about yourself. If negative thoughts persist, then you will be nothing more than a self-prisoner of your own negative self-image. However, if positive thoughts dominate your mind, you will gain tremendous benefits from your positive self-image. This is because the image of yourself holds the key to both your successes and your failures and impacts all areas of your life. For this reason, it is most certainly better to have a positive self-image than a negative one.
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The connection between self-image and self-esteem
You act consistently with who you believe and think you are, based on your perception of reality. Your self-image has been molded over time by how you perceive yourself, how you think others perceive you, and how you perceive the very best version of yourself to be. If you change your perception of reality, you will change your self-image.
How you perceive yourself also influences how you feel about yourself. If you have a positive self-image, you will feel positive about yourself. But if you have a negative self-image, you will feel negativity towards yourself. A positive self-image will therefore lead to positive self-esteem, while a negative self-image will lead to negative self-esteem.
How to determine your self-image
What do you think about yourself? Are you excited about life? Are you happy? Are you healthy? Based on your response to these questions, you can gauge the nature of your self-image.
You can also find out your self-image by the results you see around you. Your physical shape, your net worth, the quality of your relationships, and even the position you hold at your workplace can influence the thoughts that reside in your mind about yourself. These results which you see around you are the outer expression of your inner self-image.
Causes of negative self-image
Everyone has something about themselves or their lives which they don’t love and wish they could change. Everyone, at some point in time, has feelings of regret, disappointment or even frustration. It is how they respond to these things that drive the direction that their self-image takes.
Maybe you’re overweight or obese, maybe you’re living from paycheck to paycheck, maybe you’re not living your best life yet, or maybe your parents kept telling you when you were a kid that you would not turn out to anything good in life. Those would cause negative thoughts to develop in your mind and lead to a negative self-image.
That negative self-image however did not occur overnight. It developed through years and years of negativity being allowed to take residence in your mind and take control of your actions and feelings.
What happens when you have a negative self-image
A negative self-image can have dire consequences for you. It can leave you with serious emotional and psychological problems and can destroy relationships with your loved ones and your peers.
A negative self-image may lead to depression, excessive fatigue, social anxiety, panic attacks, eating disorders, obesity, and even to critical illnesses.
Benefits of a positive self-image
When you have a positive self-image, your whole perception of yourself changes for the better. You will start seeing yourself as being more attractive and desirable. You will feel smarter and more intelligent. You will feel healthy, and, when you look in the mirror, you will see a more confident looking person, one who is ready to take on the world and its challenges. Your income level should increase, your relationships should improve, and your whole life should be enhanced as you move closer to the very best version of yourself.
How to Build a Positive Self-Image
Your mind is extremely powerful. It can make you or break you. If you want to have a positive self-image, then you must feed your mind with the right fuel, and you must exercise it like you would any of your muscles.
Moving from a negative self-image to a positive self-image will however not occur overnight. But if you proactively take the right steps, you can achieve the desired results in a relatively short period of time.
The following are 10 things that you can do to help develop a positive self-image in a reasonable time frame:
- Exercise: When you exercise, chemicals called endorphins are released in your body. These endorphins will make you feel better about yourself. Exercise will also help you to get in good physical shape. You will not only feel better, you will also look better. Just don’t falter if you don’t see the results of your exercise right away. Like anything else in life, it takes time. Just be patient.
- Eat healthy: If you feed your body with the proper nourishment, it will thank you for it and perform at its maximum potential. You should therefore make sure that you have balanced meals which include lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Drink lots of water: Drinking adequate water is good for your cardiovascular health, keeps muscles and joints working, and helps cleanse toxins from your body. It also helps to balance your blood sugar level, relieves headaches and promotes healthy skin. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.
- Smile more often: Science has recognized that the act of smiling, lifts your mood, may lower stress levels, boosts the immune system and possibly even prolongs life. That’s as good enough a reason for me to smile!
- Laugh at yourself: Whenever you do something silly, just laugh. When someone laughs at you, just laugh too and don’t take it personal. Laugh even when you want to cry.
- Read self-development books: These self help books will empower you to think differently, to act differently and ultimately to be the very best version of yourself. They will help to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, but you must act on what you read!
- Visualize who you want to be: If you consistently visualize your ideal self and get your emotions involved so that you feel the joy and pleasure that comes with being that person, your mind will entertain positive thoughts only and will try everything in its power to make that ideal self its new perception of reality. Use meditation to help with this and your self-esteem will receive a significant boost.
- Act confidently: If you want to have positive self-esteem and radiate confidence, then act as if you are already confident. Improve your posture, stand up straight with your shoulders back, lift your head up high, and speak authoritatively. Do this over and over, and that will become your mind’s new reality.
- Focus only on the positive things in your life and express your gratitude: Train your mind to focus on only those things which you allow it to. When negative thoughts try to creep in your mind, quickly brush them aside and emphasize all that is good or has been good in your life. Focus on any achievements which made you proud or made others proud of you. Remember circumstances where you were able to overcome adversity and reap success. Be thankful always.
- Love yourself: No matter what, love yourself for who you are and even more for who you know you can be and will be.
After taking those steps, people will notice that there is something phenomenal happening to you. Their perception of you, but most of all, your perception of yourself, will improve exponentially.
Here’s to your positive self-image!